Anyone have the mini breeds?

Discussion in 'Sheep' started by Spinner, Nov 3, 2006.

  1. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,727
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2003
    I'm thinking about selling all my full size breeds and raising only mini size animals. Just wondering if anyone here raises miniture sheep. If you do, would you mind sharing some information about them?
     
  2. kesoaps

    kesoaps Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    4,108
    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2004
    Location:
    Washington State
    What are your goals/objectives, Spinner?
     

  3. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,727
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2003
    My goal is to be as independent as possible by raising all the food we can for our own table. We currently have several types of poultry, fruit trees, & a garden that supplies almost all of our veggies (my daughter & grandchildren live with me.)

    I have read about the mini breeds of cattle, sheep, goats, etc. at http://newton.nap.edu/books/030904295X/html I believe it would be to our benefit to raise mini breeds for several reasons.
    1. smaller animals would be easier for us to handle.
    2. they eat less than full size breeds therefore we could grow much of their feed ourselves.
    3. less processed meat to store at any given time.
    4. skins would be easier to tan.
    5. if we have to move, it would be easier to take mini breeds with us.
    6. overall, I feel that small animals would be better for our circumstances.

    The animals we hope to eventually add to our current stock includes:

    rabbits - looking for breeding stock for both fiber & meat
    sheep - looking for mini breed for fiber & meat
    goats - looking for mini breed for meat & milk
    cattle - looking for mini breed for meat & milk

    I know we probably will not find all the breeds we would like to raise but may find enough to suit our purposes.
    _________________________
     
  4. jessepona

    jessepona Food Not Lawns :p

    Messages:
    587
    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2005
    Location:
    NW IN
    I've been looking at Mini Jerseys for a while but there aren't any breeders close to me that I can find and the ones I have found are far away and way out of my price range. Still, they seem to be a good fit for a small homestead. Good luck with the mini breeds!
     
  5. Maura

    Maura Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    15,981
    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2004
    Location:
    Michigan's thumb
    I have Black Welsh Mountain ewes. They are thrifty, never get hoof rot, are good mothers, easy keepers. The meat is mild tasting. The rams are foul tempered, but you can always cull the males for your freezer. The fleece is on the coarse side, suitable for outerwear. They only need to be shorn once a year. They are a bit skittish. Mine will come to me, but it has taken some time to get to that point. They are smarter than they look.
     
  6. sunflower-n-ks

    sunflower-n-ks Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,416
    Joined:
    Aug 7, 2006
    Soays are a great little sheep. Easy keepers doing very well on pasture/forage only when available. Small enough to be easy to handle. Will come running for a treat. Do not need to be sheared and the fleece can be used for spinning or felting. The meat is mild with a good flavor.
     
  7. ShortSheep

    ShortSheep Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    360
    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2004
    Location:
    Illinois
    Some ramblings...

    We had babydoll southdowns for several years, which are miniatures of the large southdown, ended up getting rid of them for numerous reasons that I won't go into. We kept the shetlands.
    I much prefer the shetland as a "miniature" homesteading sheep. They are not a true miniature a they have no large counterpart, but they are smaller than the babydolls and have many positive traits. Small carcass (great on the grill), excellent handspinning fleece (I spin!) and very low maintenance and generally healthy breed.

    For rabbits, I have read the New Zealands and Californians recommended for meat/ fur. They are not mini's, but I'm not sure they mini's are quite what you would be looking for, for homesteading.

    goats, we had pygmy's for a while and enjoyed them. I also like the Nigerian dwafts from what I've seen on the net, but have no experience with them. For a homesteading goat, I would probably go with a few does of a more moderate sized milking breed, maybe an alpine or cross.

    cattle: miniature cattle, save up your pennies! :p I looked into Dexters, mini herefords, and zebu. I liked the Herefords the best but they started around $3,000 for breeding quality. Zebu's were really neat but I guess they don't do well in below freezing temps.
     
  8. Meg Z

    Meg Z winding down

    Messages:
    3,471
    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2004
    Location:
    NC
    Nicely thought out goals!

    For the rabbits, I'd suggest looking into French Angoras. They're dual purpose, and proper conformation is similar to a New Zealand. Mine taste just great. So, you keep the ones whose fiber you like, sell off a few others, and pop the extras in the freezer.

    You also might want to look into Kinder goats, if you want both meat and milk. They were developed froma Pygmy/Nubian cross, so have the milkiness and meat without the size of the Nubian...but you don't have to crawl to milk them! If you're also planning on dairy cows, you may want to consider cashmere or mohair goats instead of a dairy breed...obviously, you want fiber.

    Meg
     
  9. bergere

    bergere Just living Life

    Messages:
    8,280
    Joined:
    May 11, 2002
    Location:
    Now in Virginia
    TTB, The Babydoll southdowns are the original Southdown size.
    They were up sized by folks in US and NZ.

    Jacob sheep....the Puddleduck line has some great fleece for handspinning.
    Not all lines are bred to have good fleece.

    Other good smaller breeds are....

    1.)Soay....naturally shedding but their fleece is coarse.
    2.)Shetland....... Again Fleece Varies. Did not raise these though.
    3.)Black Welsh Mountains......nice sheep but get the British lines if you can.
    The Old USA lines are dangerously inbred and were showing problems because of it. Some Rams are gentle and others are not so much and should be put in the freezer. Fleece in the US lines is coarse but blends well with other fleece like Llama to make a medium coarse yarn.
    They taste good.
    4.)Babydoll Southdown.....are rather fragile during lambing time and can require a lot of care. Could not find a Ram with the Temperament I required on my place. Ended up butchering all the Rams....and the meat was not that great. Short fleece...soft but can be hard to spin because of its shortness.
    5.) My Favorite... Brecknock Hill Cheviots.....
    Excellent soft/medium fleece at least in my line. Hardy, easy to handle.
    Temperament of the Rams was excellent so I did not eat mine. Had one ewe that had excellent udders to milk and thier milk was good.

    Then you have the original sized Tunis, Icelandic, Coopworth, NavajoC's....for a little bigger size but not that much bigger.

    Have to admit...hands down for soft but strong fleece right off the sheep... I love Blue Faced Liecester. Next is Brecknock Hill Cheviot and Border Liecester.
     
  10. jlo

    jlo Active Member

    Messages:
    44
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2006
    There are a lot of smaller breeds that are not true minis that might work for you. We raise Hog Island sheep and they are small (our rams run about 150 lbs MAX, usually more like 120 and our ewes are usually about 90-120) but not minatures and I think they are definately easier to handle than I'd imagine some of those 300 lb-ers are.

    We have zebu cattle too and while I'm very glad that they are not the same size as full sized cattle, they still seem really big to me compared to our sheep. Our jersey is about the same size as the zebu and she's not a mini either, jerseys are just smaller.